Kaypro Corporation, commonly called Kaypro, was an American home/personal computer manufacturer of the 1980s. The company was founded by Non-Linear Systems to develop computers to compete with the then-popular Osborne 1 portable microcomputer. Kaypro produced a line of rugged, portable CP/M-based computers sold with an extensive software bundle which supplanted its competitors and quickly became one of the top selling personal computer lines of the early 1980s.
While exceptionally loyal to its original consumer base, Kaypro was slow to adapt to the changing computer market and the advent of IBM PC compatible technology. It faded from the mainstream before the end of the decade and was eventually forced into filing for bankruptcy in 1992.
Kaypro began as Non-Linear Systems, a maker of electronic test equipment, founded in 1952 by Andrew Kay, the inventor of the digital voltmeter.
In 1981, Non-Linear Systems began designing a personal computer, called KayComp, that would compete with the popular Osborne 1 transportable microcomputer. In 1982, Non-Linear Systems organized a daughter company named the Kaypro Corporation and rechristened the computer with the same name.
The first product, the Kaypro II, carried the Roman-numeral designation because one of the most popular microcomputers at the time was the Apple II. The Kaypro II was designed to be portable like the Osborne. (When battery-powered laptop computers became available, the larger machines came to be called transportable or luggable, rather than portable.) Set in an aluminum case, it weighed 29 pounds (13 kilograms) and was equipped with a Zilog Z80 microprocessor, 64 kilobytes of RAM, and two 5¼-inch double-density floppy-disk drives. It ran on Digital Research, Inc.'s CP/M operating system, and sold for about US$1,795.00.
By mid-1983, Kaypro had dropped the price to $1,595, and was selling more than 10,000 units a month—briefly making it the fifth-largest computer maker in the world. The Kaypro II's market success was due to a number of factors: it had a larger screen than the Osborne; it was a relatively inexpensive, simple to set up closed architecture system at a time when first-time computer buyers made up almost the entirety of the market; it came bundled with popular third-party application software (PerfectWriter and PerfectCalc, later to be replaced by MicroPro's WordStar and CalcStar); and it was supported by a network of trained dealers. The boxy units were so popular that they spawned a network of hobbyist user groups across the United States that provided local support for Kaypro products. Kaypro's success contributed to the eventual failure of the Osborne Computer Corporation and Morrow Designs.
November 10, 2018 Subject:
A rugged device...
I inherited my Dad's Kaypro II. Actually, Dad let me have it when he got a 386 as a "hot new machine."
It went with me to several apartments.
The device still runs, all these years later; it only needed service once - dad wore out a floppy motor, which was replaced. Everything else is still working. It's not a whole lot of use these days, but after thousands of hours of computing, and over 25 years, it still boots, still runs at the same (not very fast) speed, and still runs. I wish modern computers were as rugged. At the time, I considered myself lucky to have access to it. The hours of Planetfall, HHGTTG, Zork, Catchum (text-mode packman clone), and Ladder (text mode lode runner clone)... and making character sheets and GM's references for a variety of Tabletop RPGs... And the free upgrade to WordStar... Neither Dad nor I ever complained about the value, nor the durability. And, since it shipped with software aplenty...
Perfect Writer, Perfect Calc, Two flavors of interpreted basic (mbasic and obasic), One compiling basic (sbasic), Wordstar, and the standard CP/M utilities.
The one thing we saw that was a problem once we saw it elsewhere - it had no hierarchy of directories. With the small floppies, that wasn't a huge issue, but I had several half-full disks of assignments due to the inability to have more files... But that was a CP/M issue, and not a kaypro issue. And it was remedied in the Kaypro2... which was an 8080 MSDos in the same hardware format.